The Body Adorned: Artistry and Legacy of the Ancient Americas 

December 4, 2021–February 27, 2022

D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts » First Floor » Starr Gallery and Alpert Gallery

Feather textiles, gold pendants, and greenstone ear rods are among the most exquisite adornments crafted by artists working in the ancient Americas. Designed to be worn both in life and in death, these treasures functioned as status symbols, ritual paraphernalia, and sacred channels to a more sublime realm. Often small in scale and intricately crafted, the adornments featured in this exhibition were created in sophisticated workshops by highly skilled artists. These splendid works of art offer insight into the values, beliefs, and achievements of indigenous peoples.

This exhibition explores the artistic adornment of the ancient American cultures of Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, and Mexico, as well as the influence that metalwork, textiles, and ceramics had on future generations of artists. In addition to including work made between 400 and 1550 CE, the display includes works by 20th century American designer and jewelry maker William Spratling (1900-1967), who spent over three decades in Mexico and was inspired by Mesoamerican art and architecture. The exhibition celebrates the enduring power of these brilliant motifs, and bring together different eras in dialogue.

This exhibition was co-curated by Maggie North, Curator of Art, Springfield Museums; Ji Mary Seo, PhD  candidate in the History of Art and Architecture Department at Harvard University; and Martina Tanga, Curatorial Research and Interpretation Associate, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Textiles y tejidos hechos con plumas, pendientes y colgantes de oro y aretes de piedra verde se encuentran entre los adornos más distinguidos y especiales hechos por artistas antiguos del continente americano. Diseñados tanto para ser llevados en vida y como ajuares fúnebres, estos tesoros eran símbolos de estatus, artefactos de uso ritual y canales sagrados hacia un reino más sublime. Las piezas aquí exhibidas, a menudo pequeñas en tamaño y elaboradas con gran detalle y minucia, fueron creadas en sofisticados talleres y por artistas de habilidades excepcionales. Estas espléndidas obras de arte son una perspectiva de valores, creencias y logros de diferentes pueblos indígenas.

Para celebrar el poder duradero de estos brillantes objetos y reunir diferentes épocas en diálogo, esta exposición incluye adornos artísticos y artesanales hechos por culturas antiguas de los países del continente americano hoy conocidos como Colombia, Costa Rica, Panamá, Perú y México, y explora su influencia en la metalurgia, textilería y cerámica de generaciones posteriores de artistas. Además de piezas hechas entre los años 400 y 1550 E.C., también se incluyen obras del diseñador y joyero estadounidense del siglo XX William Spratling (1900-1967), quien pasó más de tres décadas en México e inspiró su producción en el arte y la arquitectura mesoamericanas.

Image: Embossed gold pectoral, Cocle, A.D. 700-1520, Place of Origin: Sitio Conte area, Cocle Province, Panama, Gold alloy, Height x diameter: 9.2 x 8.9 cm (3 5/8 x 3 1/2 in.), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Museum purchase with funds donated by Landon T. Clay, 1971.1120.

For more information, visit Springfield Museums

For information on the exhibition brochure, follow this link.

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